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Work-at-home mom: take a deep breath and Do Life Different as you allow these devotions for work-at-home moms to fill the vacuum of your needy heart in the chaos of your busy world.
 
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Archive for Jill’s Blog

Nov
18

Top Five Things to Consider When Redesigning Your Garden

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spring flowersWhen we are working from home more than ever, it is important to think of ways to jazz up our lives and make everything more bearable. We often think about how to make our indoor environment more exciting, but what about making our outdoor environment more amenable so that when we look out of the kitchen window, or into the back garden, we like what we see?

To get you into that spirit, here are the top tips to consider when redesigning your garden.

1. Professional Advice

Professional advice can range from a qualified, top-end landscape gardener to the local gardener who shears hedges at every property on the road. Regardless, someone who is experienced in all things gardening and who knows how your garden will play out after everything has been built and planted down will be invaluable in giving advice

 

2. Water features

Water features such as ponds and fountains can add life to a garden that was dull before. The flow of water adds movement and has been proven to be calming. Investing in the correct equipment, such as a pump or potentially multi level float switches, can help ensure that everything works correctly. 

 

3. Consider the seasons

Considering how your garden will look in different seasons of the year is crucial. People often pick their garden in the spring when landscapers come to look at and design how everything will look. But it is crucial to consider that the flowers will not always be in bloom throughout the year, that rains may remove topsoil, and that trees will go through the autumn colors at some point.



4. Think about maintenance

Are fifty-five different types of flowers really realistic if they all need different nutrients and watering patterns, and you never spend any time in the garden? Is getting rid of the artificial lawn really a wise idea if you never want to mow the lawn? These are all questions you must consider when designing a new garden. Otherwise it will only look good for the first month before descending into overgrown chaos!


5. ChildrenIf you have children, you need to think about how to make the garden function for them. It’s no use having intricate flower beds if they’ll only come and trample through everything. Similarly, what’s the point in having beautiful lawns if there’s nowhere they can play? A swing set will go a long way. Children expend far more of their energy outdoors than we do, so it’s worth making sure a garden works for them.

There are so many things to consider when creating a beautiful outdoor space that it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. However, taking these top five tips into account will give you a starting point that is manageable and achievable. The thing to remember is what your garden will look like one day and to try and take enjoyment in the process of redesigning your garden, as though you were crafting something beautiful — which it will be!

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Nov
09

How to Raise Awareness for Your Charity

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With so many worthy causes out there, expanding the reach of your charity can be challenging. That’s why you need to be creative with your approach and work with what you have and are comfortable with.

Supporters and donors want to feel that they’re part of the change. This is why finding what works for your charity is crucial. Here are a few suggestions to help raise awareness and hopefully increase donations for your foundation.

Use Strategic Marketing

While it may seem slightly odd to use marketing strategies for your charity, it’s one of the most effective ways to raise awareness. Having an online presence is almost mandatory in the 21st-century.

Investing in personalized marketing strategies can push the boundaries of your charity’s reach. Many companies specialize in raising their online presence and customizing designs to meet their individual goals. According to Click Intelligence, ‘finding SEO experts is crucial’ to have the desired impact.  

Partner With Like-Minded People

A good tip is to find ambassadors who support your cause and are willing to help. Their role isn’t to work for the charity, but instead with it. They’ll not only help spread the word and raise awareness of the cause but also likely help raise donations.

Possible ambassadors:

  • Influencers
  • Actresses
  • Sports players
  • Well-known community members

The key to creating connections with these figures is to have a shared set of beliefs and goals. By collaborating with like-minded people, it’s easier to increase charity engagement through natural means.

Work With Other Businesses

Partnering with other organizations or businesses can also increase awareness. In this way, there can be a mutual benefit where both parties align in principles and morals and help each other increase engagement with their cause or brand.

One example is the Australian burger company Grill’d. Every month, three charities/causes are selected, and customers are encouraged to vote for one who receives a higher donation than the other two.

In a unique twist, voting is done with bottle tops. Every customer is given one of these and is asked to place it in the box bearing the name and details of the foundation they’d most like to support. Not only does it create awareness of distinct local charities/causes, but it forms a social conscience with every purchase.

Host Events

A great way to raise awareness about your charity is by hosting an event that brings people together. If creating a live occasion isn’t possible for some reason, host an online meetup, including keynote speakers and some fun activities.

Whether the intention is to educate people or expand social networks, be sure to have clearly defined targets for your event. Partnering with other organizations that align with your charity’s goals is likely to boost your reach. Read More→

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Nov
02

Four ways you can ensure customer satisfaction at every stage of the engagement journey

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Ensuring customer satisfaction is usually towards the top of every business owner’s priorities as, simply put, happy customers create more sales. However, ensuring customer satisfaction should not just be focused on the point of sale, and instead should be upheld throughout the customer’s entire relationship with your company. Doing this will help to encourage return purchases with your company and thus help to establish customer loyalty. Read on to discover four ways that you can ensure customer satisfaction at every stage of the engagement journey.

 

 

  • Create a customer success journey map

 

The first thing you should do is draw up a customer success journey map. Simply put, this maps out every step that the customer takes through your business, from being initially drawn in to making a purchase and eventually becoming loyal to your business. Considering each separate step enables you to use analytics and customer engagement tools more effectively, thus making your sales more successful. Customers will be able to clearly see the value in what you are offering and keep coming back for more, forging a bond of customer loyalty. 

 

 

  • Send welcome emails

 

Let a new customer know exactly how much their business means to you by sending them a welcome email. You could also send a welcome email to new subscribers to your newsletter or social media sites – after all, any new subscribers have shown an interest in your business and could potentially be converted into customers. Ensuring that you strike the right tone is key to a good welcome email. Keep it polite but friendly, and emphasise all the benefits that come with being a subscriber. However, make sure that you do not overburden subscribers with emails, as studies show that people quickly unsubscribe if they feel that they are being overloaded with communications. 

 

 

  • Follow-up phone calls

 

In addition to welcome emails, you could check in on customers a week or two after their purchase with a follow-up phone call. This should include obviously enquiring over the customer’s satisfaction with their purchase – in addition to providing you with direct feedback, it is also an opportunity to resolve any issues if the customer is less than satisfied before they snowball out of control. You should also ask the customer if they have any questions about the product that they would like clearing up. Certain things might have arisen in the weeks since purchasing that they may feel embarrassed to ask about, such as operation details. 

 

 

  • Prospecting at certain points in the contract 

 

If the customer has purchased a product on a contract – a car or phone, for instance – there will come a point when that contract is nearly up and the customer has the choice of either staying with your company or going elsewhere. Check in with your customer at certain points in their contract, perhaps offering discounts and extras if they choose to renew their contract with you. 

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Oct
19

3 Ideas for Your Own eCommerce Store

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If you’ve just started your own eCommerce store and are looking for new directions to take that might increase your ROI or your traffic, you’re not alone. Working online offers a different type of security to having a brick-and-mortar based job, but getting things to the stage where they become profitable is often difficult for new eCommerce stores. If that’s the case, you might want to try one or more of the following ideas to get you to a profitable stage.

 

 

1. Audit & Optimize Performance

 

You’re hopefully quite happy with the way your website looks, but then, looks aren’t everything. If your site isn’t optimized for search engines or for the user experience, you can find yourself at low levels of traffic that will be almost impossible to profit from. The answer? 

Well, to start, have a look at the eCommerce solutions offered by this Magento developer Los Angeles company: design for all devices, SEO & SEM, speed optimization and security reviews. You should be easily accessible for all devices, especially mobiles, as 72% of internet users will come from mobiles by 2025

Your SEO should be a never-ending effort, and it’s one that really pays off. Speed optimization is a vital part of SEO, but mainly because if your site isn’t fast enough, people just click off and you lose customers. Security goes without saying, but many small businesses still don’t think they’re targets, which paradoxically makes them major targets for hackers looking for an easy job. 

Read More→

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Oct
09

A Guide to Growing Your Small Business Successfully

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Congratulations are in order if you currently operate a prosperous small business. This achievement is far from easy, after all. In fact, statistics suggest that about half of US small businesses don’t make it out of their fifth year without closing permanently. 

Yet simply treading water and remaining as a small business isn’t enough for you. You want to expand, gain more customers, and generate greater profits. There’s just one major problem with this idea: Where do you start? 

Growing a small business is a serious challenge. Get it wrong, and you might end up with no business at all. To ensure that doesn’t happen, here’s a guide to growing your company successfully. 

Acquire the right funding

Money is required for any business growth plan – that much is obvious. Yet how you actually gain this cash will vary depending on your situation. If you have enough stored in the bank, for example, you may decide to use this to fund your expansion. 

Most will have to look at alternative financing, however. In that regard, one of the best options is business line of credit. Now you might be wondering how to get business lines of credit. The good news: even new businesses can acquire this type of financing, let alone established ones. Plus, as it acts effectively like a credit card, you can dip into the money when needed – so it is always there as a safety net of sorts. 

Invest in the right systems

If you’re trying to complete all tasks on your own, you could limit your business’s potential to grow. While employees can help with this, it makes sense to utilize modern and robust systems to handle various different tasks.

Something like a CRM or accounting software can go a long way to streamlining and automating various jobs. This frees up plenty of time for you to focus on other areas of your company, the type that can truly make a difference during an expansion.  Read More→

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Sep
09

How to Update Your Living Room on a Budget

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Your living room is one of the more important rooms in your home. It is where you and your family gather to watch a movie or just hang out and spend time together. It is also where your guests gather when you have friends or family over for an evening. With all of the traffic and wear and tear that your living room and its furniture see on a regular basis, you might be thinking that it could use an update.

Flooring, sofas, and chairs can all begin to look worn after a few years, particularly if your living room sees a great deal of use. Ultimately, though, the thought of changing things up and making changes might make you worried about how much such a project would cost to complete. However, if you are ready to freshen up your living room, you don’t have to break the bank.

Start by setting out a reasonable budget for yourself that you are comfortable with. Once you know what you can spend, you would be surprised to find just how big of a difference you can make with just a few simple changes. 

Here are some tips to help you make the most of your living room upgrade budget.

 

Be a Savvy Shopper

Some people are naturally savvy shoppers who can find a deal no matter what they are shopping for. Most people, though, have to put a bit of effort into finding those deals and making the most of a budget. The process requires some research and patience waiting for sales at times, but when it comes to a project like a living room upgrade, you will benefit the most by adopting some savvy shopping practices.

Start by comparison shopping for the items that you need. If you want to change out your sofa, take your time to compare costs at a variety of stores. Just because you have to make a bit of an investment into a new sofa doesn’t mean you need to overpay. If your vision simply includes some new throw pillows and art for your walls, you don’t need to go overboard on these surprisingly pricey items either. Make use of some Macys coupons to find great deals on the décor items that you want.

Read More→

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Jul
09

How to Successfully Work from Home

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Working from home can be either a blissful or a frustrating experience. Depending on the type of job you have — or if you’re unaccustomed to making your home your office — working from home comes with its fair share of challenges. 

Below we outline a few ways you can successfully work from home without losing your sanity.

Design a Space Just for Work

Despite how obvious it may sound, some people overlook this point entirely. If you’re someone who has suddenly been forced to work remotely rather than head to the office, working from home might simply mean taking your laptop and stationing yourself on the bed or sofa. The problem with this is that the environment is likely not conducive to boosting productivity. Whether it’s distractions from other members of your household or a poor seating arrangement, a bad environment will not help your creativity. 

If you have space to do it, carve out an area of your home that is designated just for work. Do whatever you can to set up a comfortable desk situation and surround yourself with objects that increase your contentment. If you don’t have a table or desk to sit at, consider investing in one, as well as a comfortable chair. You can find relatively cheap desks available at department stores such as Kohls. Complete the look by investing in some Kohls coupons to furnish your workspace even more with lighting, essentials for work, stationery, or other objects.

Create Boundaries

If you live with pets, children, or multiple people, creating boundaries is a must. The last thing you need when you’re working from home is for people to be coming and going, creating an unwelcome distraction. Where possible, try to set limits with your kids in terms of your workspace and find ways to ensure that you aren’t disrupted by noise, movement, or people talking at you. Read More→

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Jun
15

Earth Manager

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Brad Washburn, Do the Dad Thing bloggerI’m writing this during the Corona Virus Pandemic, also known as the Global Covid-19 Crisis or other great names that combine those terms.  I’m sure future generations will read this blog and race to their holographic encyclopedias and see recreated images of people stuck in their homes using social media on handheld phones.

Oh, yeah, and view holographic images of people reading this blog. — How meta.

I’m not sure how much the prevalence of memes will make it into the future holographic history curriculum.  If you get on social media much during this quarantine, then you are aware that people have nothing better to do than to make funny pandemic memes, and to eat snacks.

Many of the memes I’ve seen reference one of the pleasant repercussions of a majority of the populace being confined to their homes:  Nature is flourishing.

If I can believe what I see on social media (note to future generations, you actually can’t believe MOST of what you see on social media), then dolphins have been seen swimming in the canals of Venice, Italy – an area with water pollution so bad that hardly any marine life would visit the area.  I saw a picture today of a swan also in Venice.  Someone posted a picture of deer in a different city, and baby ducks crossing the road in another metropolis.  Nature is abounding everywhere in the absence of people and pollution.

The pictures might be fake, but I hope they aren’t.  Because . . .  and here is the tie-in to Dads . . . it’s our job to take care of the planet.

You probably think I’m talking about that one time that your daughter found a baby bird that fell out of the nest and you spent all night making a wooden nesting box for it and helping her feed it with an eye dropper.

Or the time that your son came to you with a moth crawling on his arm and wanted you to help find a box to keep it in.

But actually I’m talking about the Bible.  Yes, again.

Genesis 1:28 — God blessed humans and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

This verse is a command from God at the very beginning.  “increase in number” – that part is pretty easy and humans have done that well.  We’ve ‘filled the Earth.’  Check.

The other part of this directive is a little more subtle.  “Subdue it.”

I live in West Virginia currently and like to poke fun at the general populous.  I’m not worried about teasing West Virginians in this blog.  You know why?  Most of them can’t read.

See what I mean?

There are probably a group of ‘good ol’ boys’ that populate the hills that would read the Bible verse above and think that “subdue” means to dominate, kill, trap, pen up, and subjugate.  No, scratch that; they wouldn’t know what subjugate means. . .  (yes, I did it again).

The word subdue in this verse actually translates better to “manage.”  As dads we are managers of the kids.  My blog talks about that a lot.  We manage their activities and resources.  We wisely guide them into success.

No good manager wastes resources, abuses their employees, and purposefully demoralizes them.

The command to ‘rule’ over the animals is in the same spirit.  God wants us to be a benevolent king over the animals.  We should be the kind of ruler that we wish we were if we were ruling over us.  –How very very meta.

Any time is a good time to emphasize this with your kids.  If it’s a moth or a baby bird, it’s our job to be a good manager or kind ruler to the environment God gave us.

Let me emphasize this with an analogy:

Zucchini.  You mulch and till and fertilize some soil, then you plant zucchini.  If you then plant zucchini in your garden it grows, and fruits, and pretty soon you are swamped with zucchini.  After you’ve eaten it, and frozen it, . . . and given it away to your neighbors . . . and secretly put baskets on your neighbors doorsteps . . .  then, it’s time to throw some out in the garden and let it become nutrients for the wild animals and till it into the soil next year.

Yes this is an analogy about being a ruler.   West Virginians would probably miss it, but you didn’t.

You can eliminate some zucchini and it helps the rest of the zucchini grow.  You can share zucchini and use zucchini.   You can appreciate, grow, and cultivate zucchini.  – all of these things are part of being a king or ruler of the zucchini garden of our Earth.

How can you, as a dad, help your kids be benevolent dictators to our environment?

Kid:  Hey dad, I’m roasting ants with a magnifying glass.  Isn’t it cool?

Dad:  Actually, if I was an ant, I’d hate to be roasted.  Maybe we could see if the magnifying glass will start a fire with this dead wood?

___

Kid:  Hey dad, look I caught a whole jar of fireflies!  I’m going to keep it by my bed tonight as a nightlight.

Dad:  That’s cool, but I bet those lightening bugs won’t be able to breathe in that jar and will miss their families.  Let’s show everyone your light jar for a moment and then let them go out in the woods.

___

Wife:  There is a spider the size of a small dog in the bathroom.  Go kill it.

Dad:  Are you kidding, I’m not going in there with a scary spider.

___

As much as I like to make fun of people in West Virginia, there are a lot of great people here.  One guy that came into my office and was talking about hunting, fishing, and trapping.  He expressed how much he loved being in God’s creation.  On his outings, he took his kids to have the experience with him.  Sometimes he shared that hunting and fishing were helping new baby animals survive and have enough food to eat.  He emphasized that you had to be responsible and maintain your traps every day, and was very stern about his role of being an outdoorsman that cared about the environment.

You may not agree with hunting, fishing, or trapping, but I definitely agree with the way he emphasized sharing the importance of managing the environment with his kids.

This command God gives us to ‘fill the earth and manage it’ is the first instruction he gave to humans on our planet.  It’s our job as dads to pass on this first instruction to our kids:  be a kind king to the biology and environment of our planet.

That way, we won’t need a global virus to remind us to manage nature well.

After you’re done reading this article, brainstorm with your kids on how to manage your personal environment well.  You might live with acres and acres of yard, or you might be in an apartment limited to a potted plant on a shelf.  We all have ways in which we rule over earth, and parents have the responsibility to model being a good earth manager.

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Jun
10

How to Choose a Business to Run From Home

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Working from home is ideal for a lot of people, with managing a successful home business becoming more and more achievable every day. There are multiple business opportunities that you can choose from to kickstart a new career for yourself with just a few simple ideas. Whether you start up a business offering something you are already passionate about or put a brand new idea you have to work, choosing a business to run from home is easily done with some brainstorming and planning. 

Find Your Passion

Creating, selling, or offering a service that you genuinely love will benefit your whole lifestyle in the long run. Determine what you are passionate about, maybe you have a hobby like photography or maybe you have a fantastic eye for clothing design and textiles. The advantages of offering services for something you truly enjoy are many, as making sales and advertising is more likely to come naturally and easily. Don’t be afraid of exploring new ideas and topics if you can’t think of something you have a strong interest in right away. 

Choose a Business Idea that will Sell

Coming up with a business idea is the step that should require a decent amount of thinking and planning. Picking something that is highly sought after will make it easier for your business to grow and develop a target market. This could be something like a childminding business, tutoring in one of your skills, or caring for people’s pets. 

Develop a Plan

Having a business plan is a crucial part of setting up your own business. Take into consideration your finances, how much it will cost to start the brand, what equipment you will need to get started, how you will create and manage your website, the best advertising platforms to use, and your overall goals for the business. You may need to think about how you will fit running a business from home into your daily life, for example, if you are a stay at home mom (or dad) it is still absolutely possible with a structured plan in place.

Buy an Existing Business

Buying an existing business rather than starting up an entirely new one all by yourself has a lot of benefits and can overall make the whole process of starting and running your business much more straightforward. An established brand usually comes with a website, loyal customers, suppliers, networking contacts, and all the resources that are needed already in place. You can find a number of businesses to purchase right away, making it much less complicated to pick your brand. Using a website like Exchange Marketplace will create a very limited amount of work when it comes to setting up, advertising, and growing the company, which will save you a great deal of time. 

Overall, choosing a business to run from home is easily done even if you do not have a specific skill or idea to start with. All it takes is efficient organizing, planning, and outlining what your goals are, what you will need, and what kind of market you want to attract.

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May
27

3 Ways In Which You Can Boost Your Childs College Application

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College application season can be nerve-wracking for parents. You want your kid to get into the best school, but you may be wondering “Did I do everything I could?” That’s why you may want to consider talking to your child early on about how to boost their college application and find ways in which to maximize their chances of getting into a good school. Here are some ways that you can help your child get ready to apply to college. 

 

  • Consider private tutoring to improve their grades

 

Grades are important if your child wants to get into the best colleges. While it’s true that college admissions teams don’t just look at GPA, they will usually have a particular range that they are looking for, so if your child’s application is amazing but they fall short, then they have little chance of getting in. Even for schools with a high acceptance rate, a 3.0 GPA will be expected.

Most kids have subjects in which they struggle, so consider getting them some tutoring. The earlier you can do this, the better their chances of bringing up their average grade.

 

  • See if they are talented enough for a scholarship

 

If your child has a particular talent, such as being an amazing musician or athlete, then they may be able to get into a good college based mostly on their skill level. While they will still have to meet certain requirements, such as a decent GPA, colleges are often more flexible when it comes to talented individuals such as student athletes, and as a bonus, you don’t have to worry about the cost of your child’s education. Visit asmscholarships.com and you’ll see that there are a huge range of potential scholarships for student athletes, from basketball, to baseball, to lesser-known sports.

 

  • Ensure they have some good extracurricular skills

 

Extracurricular activities can turn an average application into an amazing one, but there are some points to bear in mind:

  • Try to encourage your child to choose at least one of the extracurricular activities that colleges like. This includes any sort of academic team, student government, debate and the arts
  • Get them started early—many seniors try to cram in extracurriculars at the last minute. This leaves them stressed and it doesn’t look good on their application
  • Encourage them to take on a position of responsibility—if they can become treasurer, secretary, president or captain of a team, this can impress admissions teams

Ideally, kids should do activities that they are interested in, otherwise they may not stick with them. However, they should also think about the kind of major they are interested in and also try to choose some relevant activities if possible, in order to make the most of their extracurriculars.

College applications are tough, and it’s important that your child is well-rounded and can show they have a lot to offer to an admissions team. While grades are important, what they do in their spare time is too, and if they can show they have a genuine love of the subject, then they have a better chance of impressing the top colleges.

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